I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb: Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic. Anna’s Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences. Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever. Until she meets Effie and Attis. They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells. But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her Aunt was right all along. Is her magic a gift … or a curse?
Author: Cari Thomas
Publisher: Harper Voyager, an imprint of Harper Collins
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
All Anna has ever known is life with her Aunt. Chores must be done properly, she must keep her head down at school and all magic must be bound. Learning the rules of the Binders is non negotiable and when Anna turns sixteen, her magic is to be bound forever. But there’s much more at play than Anna could ever imagine and the sudden appearance of a close family friend is about to throw everything up in the air…
As soon as I came across this book I knew it would be something that I would love – and I wasn’t disappointed. Very quickly we’re thrown into a world where witches exist in all forms, but a certain group of them despise the magic they have and seek to bind any and all magic they can. Anna, our main character, grows up under the watchful eye of her Aunt after her parents’ deaths, and her future of being Bound is decided early. I really loved being able to delve into the magical world that Thomas created, filled as it was with coven circles, magical libraries, shops and clubs as well as some really fun potion/spell making scenes. I loved that there were so many different ways to cast magic and there had obviously been a lot of thought put into the processes. Personally, I’ve never read a fantasy that is centred on knot magic so the originality was a real bonus for me! The world building, even though this is still set in contemporary London, was fantastic and this world of magic is one that I would love to be a part of! I also want to point out here that parts of this book definitely gave me dark academia vibes. While there’s no Defence Against the Dark Arts classes at the school in this book, underground spell casting in an old sewing room felt like it was part way there. This is also only made better by the cast of characters that we’re introduced to. From the uptight Aunt to the wild Effie, from Selene’s frivolity to Manda’s nervousness, there’s a range of personalities which were a lot of fun to read when they interacted. I also really appreciated that none of the characters were one sided or easy to mistake for each other, this is something that always makes me sink into a book even more! When it comes to plot, there’s a whole lot going on. Anna has so many questions about her past, her magic and her future – and a lot of what she thinks she knows gets twisted upside down. A lot of it really kept me guessing and there were times when I wasn’t sure where we were headed but that just made it all the more enjoyable. Even as we get closer to the ending we’re fed enough clues to think one thing before it’s revealed to be another. If you’re a fan of a fantasy story that will really keep you guessing, then this one is definitely for you!
As for what I disliked, there were points, especially initially, where I felt that things moved quite slowly. There are a lot of small developments but nothing huge for a while and even then we don’t always get the full story behind them. The ending does make up for this though in the sense that everything gets an explanation eventually, even if it all does then seem to come a little fast. I also feel that the ending was definitely setting up for a sequel (I hope) as there were a few characters who weren’t present in the final scene that I have questions about.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to get lost in a fantasy world full of twists and turns where you’re never quite sure who you can trust…
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!
You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌